Pitching on stage rather than to a screen pays off for the 2021 Pitch Fest Winner

Jun 15, 2021

Pitching to a live audience was a first for this newly established Brisbane based social enterprise, I Am Grounded, launching to market last year with their only pitching experience having been in front of the computer.

“It was amazing to be able to express our passion for what we do in real life instead of behind a computer screen. I much prefer pitching in person than behind a computer screen because it’s hard to read people’s reactions and emotional state via a computer”.

From L to R; I Am Grounded Co-Founders Vanessa Murillo and Lachlan Powell

Up against four other finalists of high calibre, Vanessa and Lachlan delivered a passionate four-minute pitch about their initiative to up cycle the natural by-product of the coffee fruit to produce better-for-you snack bars and contribute positive environmental and social change in coffee producing and drinking communities, winning themselves a valuable prize package worth over $10,000.

The finalists were judged by a panel of esteemed industry experts including Managing Director of Rocket Seeder, Emma Coath, Lucinda Hankin, Investment Director at Grok Ventures and Ann Cattelan, Marketing Manager for Go Vita Distributors who were very impressed by the tight competition between each of the finalists.

From L to R; Judges Emma Coath; Lucinda Hankin; Ann Cattelan

The I Am Grounded Pitch

Vanessa and Lachlan were first introduced to pitching when they entered the global pitch competition FoodBytes, in which they were selected as one the top 15 entrants. Since then, they have had a lot of time to finesse their pitch and were excited to enter Naturally Good and apply everything they have learnt into a real-life pitch.

When asked what their preparation process was like, Vanessa commented “To be honest, preparing for a stall set up and the pitch for a bunch of A type personalities like ourselves was challenging because we also drove to Sydney with our booth set up to visit our stockists along the way. So, we prepared the pitch in the car during our drive down to Sydney from Brisbane. We put together the slides Friday evening/ Saturday morning and just finessed and practiced a few times over.”

With their prior experience, I Am Grounded were aware of how compelling it is to start any kind of pitch outlining the problem and the solution. “Only 9% of the coffee fruit is used to make coffee, the remaining 91% ends up as landfill, releasing greenhouse gas emissions and polluting local ecosystems. That’s 20 billion KG of antioxidant-packed, nutrient-rich coffee byproduct left to rot each year.

Our goals are to empower farmers with the tools to sell coffee fruit, educate the coffee drinking world that we are discarding the majority of this valuable resource, and we want consumers to reap the health benefits of this superfruit. We currently have first-mover advantage and distribution for our coffee fruit extract in Australia and we aim to capitalise on this through becoming a leader in the space.”

The Pitch Fest prize package

Besides the distinction, valuable exposure and feedback from the judges for their Pitch Fest win, I Am Grounded won a complimentary stand for Naturally Good 2022, a 30 minute one-one-follow up meeting with Rocket Seeder Managing Director Emma Coath, and a meeting with the buying team at Go Vita. 

What’s next for I Am Grounded

Following on from their win and feedback from the judges, I Am Grounded already have plans to extend their product range into more familiar consumer foods.

“We’re launching a line of functional caffeinated snack-able bites made with plant-based protein and chocolate and another with QLD dried bananas. They will be launched in July and contain a green tea level of caffeine in every portion! ”

Being their first time exhibiting at Naturally Good, Vanessa and Lachlan were excited about the connections they made and have many plans to come back bigger and better next year.  “We really enjoyed getting out there and seeing what is happening in our food scene in real life. We have some very promising leads and made some meaningful connections with stockists and buyers. We went out to find distribution and the right partners in NSW, VIC and SA and met some very passionate buyers who believe in our up cycled food company.”

“We also really enjoyed also speaking to fellow founders of other snack companies who were more than happy to lend us a hand and advice! That’s the spirit of Aussieprenuers.”

Pitch Fest will return to Naturally Good in 2022 – stay tuned for more information closer to the event. You can also view the five finalists that were selected to pitch live at the 2021 Pitch Fest.

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